Changing unjust bond practices: The case of Martin Dubon Miranda

Representation through the Baltimore SAFE program led to an important change in bond proceedings in the Baltimore Immigration Court, ultimately benefiting all detained immigrants seeking bond in Maryland. CAIR Coalition represented Martin Dubon Miranda, who was denied bond by the immigration judge even as his partner was dying from end-stage renal failure and the COVID-19 pandemic was exploding.[]See Miranda v. Barr, No. 1:20-cv-01110, (D. Md. May 20, 2020), As CAIR Coalition continued to fight Dubon Miranda’s deportation, the organization worked with the ACLU of Maryland to file a class-action lawsuit challenging the practice that required that people in detention prove they did not need to be detained, rather than requiring the government to prove that detention was necessary. This practice empowered the government to detain people in advance of a bond hearing without presenting any evidence or justification. The lawsuit also challenged the practice of judges imposing arbitrarily high bond amounts without considering whether a detained person could actually pay that amount—a form of money injustice that perpetuates ongoing detention simply because someone cannot afford to pay.[]Unlike in criminal proceedings, detained people in immigration proceedings must pay their full bond amounts to gain release. The district court agreed and issued a preliminary injunction requiring that the government bear the burden of justifying a person’s ongoing detention and that judges consider the detained person’s ability to pay when they set a bond amount.

Since this decision, people who had previously been denied bond have relied on the Dubon Miranda precedent to gain release and reunify with their families and communities. Immigration judges in Baltimore must now also consider alternatives to detention. The city’s universal representation program not only brought freedom and family reunification for Dubon Miranda and the other named plaintiffs, but also continues to promote the same for many others appearing before the Baltimore Immigration Court.